Thailand’s Luksika Kumkhum fought back from a set down to beat unseeded Irinia Khromacheva and win her first WTA title at the L&T Mumbai Open on Sunday.
The fifth seed beat the Russian World No 167 in three sets 1-6, 6-1, 6-3 in one hour and 47 minutes at the Cricket Club of India courts to clinch the biggest title of her career. This trophy is expected to take her back into the top 100.
The resilient Thai, who was a game away from being knocked out in the first round of the tournament against India’s Pranjala Yadlapalli, showed her grit and came back after holding serve just once in the first set.
Playing her third three-setter in the Mumbai heat, World No 103 Kumkhum showed signs of nervousness in her first WTA final as she was broken in the very first game.
She also had a chance to break Khromacheva in the next game with three break points but the Russian saved them all to consolidate her early break.
The versatile Russian then stormed her way to a 3-1 lead with a clever mix of slices, drop shots and lobs, which became her go-to point winner.
Down 1-4 in the first, Kumkhum sought help from her coach but but that was to no avail. Khromacheva got a set point a game later with a winner down the line and converted it, to no one’s surprise, with her trusty lob.
But the second set saw a dramatic reversal of the script as it was Kumkhum who broke in the first game and then raced to a double break to lead 3-0. Khromacheva finally held at 4-1 and like her opponent in the first first, she called her coach, but that didn’t help. Kumkhum took the match to a decider with an ace.
After a break and change of clothes, a tired-looking Khromaceva started to go for her shots and hamper Kumkhum’s speed with a stunning mix of slices and volleys. The seeded player countered that with wily winners herself, keeping her serve strong. But just as it appeared that the Russian would pull back, she went a break down at 3-1.
The fifth seed played more aggressive and moving swiftly to counter the Russian’s array of shots, and had a bit of luck on her side when a net cord winner gave her another break to lead 4-1.
The Russian finally found her mark as Kumkhum faced her first break points of the set and then committed two double faults to to give Khromacheva an opening. But the resilient Thai player had sensed her first trophy and sealed her championship point on her opponent’s serve. In keeping with the old adage ‘fortune favours the brave’, the winning point was a net cord winner.
A muted celebration followed as she thanked the crowd with folded hands and a bowed head. The win has earned her $20,000 dollars and 160 ranking points.